This is a great documentary. What I thought was interesting is that Ben Franklin used privateers as a way to get British prisoners, in order to do a prisoner exchange with Britain for American prisoners. But because he did not provide incentive for the privateers to keep prisoners and deliver them or hold them, that the privateers just let them go. So I put the blame on Ben for not posting a bounty for prisoners captured, or at least some payment system that would motivate his privateers to capture and hold these prisoners.

Also, he poorly vetted the privateers he gave commissions too. I mean Ben really stumbled through this first effort of privateering. Although I am glad that the practice was improved upon and later turned into a key element of the Revolutionary War. It was private industry that targeted the logistics and commerce of the British, and basically made the American venture for Britain very costly.  Sun Tzu would refer to this as attacking weakness with strength, and British commerce and logistics was ravaged by American privateers.

What is also interesting is that with this bad experience, Ben made the conclusion that he did not like using privateers. Personally, I just think he didn’t have a clue on how to use them. Because if you look at the history of privateer usage in the War of 1812, congress used a bounty system to secure prisoners that privateers would have captured–all so they could do a prisoner exchange. In other words, America created a better offense industry using better rules and incentive. –Matt


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